Firefighters rushed into a hostile fire on Monday evening, after getting reports that people might still be inside a burning home.
But after searching the residence, on 14 Street West near 15 Avenue West, they determined that no one was inside at the time of the blaze.
Fire Chief Jason Everitt was on site that evening. He said he had only eight firefighters on hand when the fire broke out. They arrived at the home at around 8:30 p.m.
“We received reports that there may be persons inside,” he said. “We made entry into the structure although the conditions were not tenable, they were not safe at all for our members to enter – we did anyway.”
The home was fully engulfed in flames. Conditions quickly became too dangerous to keep up the search.
“Things were getting too hot,” he said. “Our members pulled back and they were able to knock down the bulk of the fire from outside the structure.”
Once the main fire had subsided, the firefighters went back inside to finish their search. They didn’t find anyone. Everitt said that the fire department does not believe anyone was in the home at the time the fire broke out.
As of Monday evening, authorities had not yet succeeded in contacting the occupants of the home, Everitt said. Without an explanation for how the fire started, he said the department will treat the incident as “suspicious.”
“That’s common practice,” he said. “We can’t say right now until it’s proven otherwise, until we have reliable data from an occupant or homeowner. At the time we don’t have any of that information… so it will be treated as suspicious.”
The fire department will now launch an investigation into the cause of the fire. Everitt said his investigators will start from the least damaged parts of the home, and work their way to the most damaged areas – in the hopes of finding the source of the blaze.